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January 2, 2020 11:30 AM, EST

Trump Says China Trade Signing Set for Jan. 15

President Donald TrumpPresident Trump says he will sign the first phase of a trade deal with China on Jan. 15. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

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President Donald Trump said he will sign the first phase of a trade deal with China on Jan. 15, sealing an agreement that sees the Asian nation raising purchases of American farm goods in exchange for lower tariffs on some of its products. The date has yet to be confirmed by the Chinese side.

“The ceremony will take place at the White House,” Trump said on Twitter on Dec. 31, adding he will be going to Beijing, where talks will begin on the second phase of the deal.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang on Jan. 2 referred a question on the signing to the Ministry of Commerce. The commerce ministry did not respond to an earlier fax seeking comment.

Despite the lack of clarity on the signing date, Beijing is still indicating it also wants the deal. A commentary on the front page of People’s Daily on Dec. 31 said, “It is everyone’s wish that China and the U.S. will sign the phase one agreement.”

The deal, announced Dec. 13, sees the U.S. suspending plans for new tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports, including smartphones and toys and reducing some existing levies. China agreed to increase its purchases of American agricultural products and has made new commitments on intellectual property protections, forced technology transfers by U.S. companies and currency practices. The move at least temporarily calms fears of an escalating trade war between the world’s largest economies.

The precise terms of the 86-page agreement have not been revealed. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Dec. 13 he expected to sign the accord together with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, in early January in Washington, and that it would be released publicly then.

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